Must we continue to make kids miserable in school? It seems every day we find new ways to accomplish this. The New York Post (a paper I read because they cover the sports teams that I follow) had this to say yesterday:
Good news: The State Education Department is doing the right thing, recommending only innocuous changes to the math and English standards in the controversial Common Core curriculum.
How this is good news I don’t know since Common Core means that every kid must learn the same things so that kid’s can become the same, just like “compatible electrical sockets” (Those are Bill Gates’ words, not mine.) I suppose we would all die if one kid decided to follow his or her own interests and those interests were different than the kid next to them. Oh My God! A kid might not know the Quadratic Formula! (Hardly any adults know it or use it… but who cares?)
Back to the NY Post
The Common Core national academic standards outline the knowledge and skills that every student should have in math and English at the end of each grade. Clear, universal standards make it easier to see which kids — and which schools and school systems — are falling behind. And that’s a threat to certain special interests — above all, teachers unions and their allies, who’ve done their best to feed hysteria over Common Core.
No, NY Post. There is nothing that every kid must know. Teachers unions and anyone with half a brain, except, of course, the politicians and special testing interests who passed this nonsense know this.
The goal of school ought not be to make it easier to see which schools and school systems are falling behind. We are not in a World Cup competition in education. The competition that we have put people in, unfortunately, is to get their kids into a “good college,” and parents trip over one another making sure their kid is “doing well.”
We might measure how well they are doing by how happy they are, by how much they can’t wait to get to school that day, by how much a school lets a kid set his or her own goals and then helps them achieve them. No. That would be too rational. School is a triathlon isn’t it? We want winners and losers.
I was one of the those winners. I went to a special smart kids high school in New York and I got into a “good college.” I did it by blowing school off and letting the chips fall where they might. Today, I doubt I could get away with that. Instead of playing baseball and football which is what I did as soon as I got home from school each day, today I would have to study to cram facts into my head that I would never need to know ever again. I would never have been able to satisfy Bill Gates, the Common Core Standards, nor the New York Post. (Oddly, The New York Times and the New York Post agree about Common Core which makes one wonder just how much money is out there pushing all this.)
To see the rest of this article go to this link:
I was nauseous enough from seeing the NY Post article but then I saw this:
The following appeared in the Washington Post yesterday:
As kindergarten ratchets up academics, parents feel the stress
Jo Ann Bjornson spent her early childhood in the care of babysitters until it came time for her to board the bus to school for half-day classes, an event that came with little fanfare. For her daughter Isabella, the days before kindergarten started this month included structured preschool, a bevy of summer camps and months of agonizing over whether the smart, sensitive 5-year-old was academically and socially ready to start school.
Kindergarten, where children were once encouraged to play and adjust to the rhythms of the school day, has long been evolving. But many parents new to modern-day elementary schooling say they have been shocked to find their children in a pressure cooker of rigorous academics, standardized tests, homework and what seem like outrageous expectations.
Huh? Kids are getting anxious about kindergarten? Why is that a good thing?
The nation’s earliest grade — if you don’t count pre-K — now comes with packed orientation nights, school tours, Twitter chats, warnings to make sure children brush up on their skills and “dress rehearsals.” Some parents have come to view the first year of school not as a transition but as a make-or-break gauntlet that will shape their child’s academic career.
What are parents nervous about exactly? The competition. They are afraid their kids will lose — whatever that means — and they will be doomed forever. Has no one ever heard of kids who did poorly in school and then did well in life or vice versa? When did school become so important? When did grades and tests became so important? Why are we allowing this?
I should point out that societies have been allowing this for some time.
This is from the Satyricon written by Petronius in the First Century:
This is the reason, in my opinion, why young men grow up such blockheads in the schools, because they neither see nor hear one single thing connected with the usual circumstances of everyday life.
We have been teaching nonsense in schools forever. Why?
Because we allow academics to dictate what kids must know. You must take algebra, geometry, and calculus, in order to get into Harvard. Why? Because the professors at Harvard don’t care about that stuff and they hope someone else will teach it to you so they don't have to. Then, they hope you want to study theoretical mathematics or physics because that is the stuff they know. Parents who push children to get into college never think about what is really taught there. As far as I can see, going to Harvard allows you to say that you went to Harvard, which impresses many people. But people rarely mention what they learned there.
The other day my 8 year old grandson announced he was going to go to Brown. I asked him: “Why?” “What do they teach there that you want to learn?” Of course he didn’t know. What he did know was that his mother went there. So, I asked his mother what she had learned at Brown that she uses in her daily life. She said “nothing" and then went on to say why it was a wonderful experience. I am sure it was.
College is fun after all. And you can get to learn some interesting things if what they teach there happens to be of interest to you. Is this a reason that we have to make everyone hysterical about kindergarten?
Something is really wrong here.
We need to find a new approach to education.
We might start with asking newspapers to stop promoting all the nonsense that is there now. The we could ask them to press politicians, who did all this, to start talking about. Neither of the candidates ever seems to say anything about education. IT is time to start asking hard questions of politicians about why school can’t be fun and less stressful.
School shouldn’t be a competition. It should allow true exploration and let kids find their way with help from teachers, teachers who are not grading them, but mentoring them. Is that too much to ask?